What is Toastmasters?
Toastmasters began in 1924 when a group of men assembled in a YMCA basement in Santa Ana, California under the leadership of Dr. Ralph C. Smedley. They formed a club to practice and train in the art of public speaking, presiding over meetings, and promote sociability and good fellowship among its members. The group took the name Toastmasters. Toastmasters became Toastmasters International, a nonprofit organization which offers its members the opportunity to develop communication and leadership skills through local club meetings, education and training opportunities, and speech contests. Today there are over 15,900 clubs in 142 countries.
District 6 covers Minnesota and a portion of Northwestern Ontario, Canada. There are 299 clubs and more than 5800 members within District 6. To understand the structure of Toastmasters International, check out the Toastmasters International Organizational Structure page.
I don’t plan on being a public speaker, so how can Toastmasters benefit me?
Toastmasters will give you the skills and confidence you need to effectively express yourself in any situation. Whether you are a professional, student, stay-at-home parent or retiree, Toastmasters is the most efficient, enjoyable and affordable way of gaining great communication skills. By learning to effectively formulate and express your ideas, you open an entirely new world of possibilities. You’ll be more persuasive and confident when giving presentations and you’ll improve your one-on-one dealings with others. Through active participation in the Communication and Leadership Program, you will learn to:
– Effectively speak
– Conduct a meeting
– Present with visual aids
– Speak impromptu
– Lead people and processes
– Motivate and persuade
– Effectively listen
As you learn and refine these valuable skills, your self-confidence will shine through, and recognition and promotion will follow. Perhaps you are thinking you don’t plan to manage or lead others. Regardless, these are skills everyone can benefit from. You will learn to be a better and more effective communicator at home, school, church, or in just about any other social situation.
What is a typical meeting like?
Each club has its own personality, but follows guidelines established by Toastmasters International. Larger clubs may fill more roles and separate out duties whereas a smaller club may have folks helping out in more than one area. A typical meeting will have an introduction and welcome given by the Toastmaster, speakers that give prepared speeches, and a Table Topics session where members (and guests if they choose) can practice thinking and speaking on their feet. Following speeches and Table Topics, there is usually an evaluation portion of the meeting. The evaluation team will typically consist of a General Evaluator who monitors and reports on how well the meeting flows overall, an Evaluator for each prepared speech, a Timer that keeps speech times on track, and a Grammarian who will report on things like “ah’s” and “um’s” as well as point out exemplary word usage. Often there is a Word of the Day which members are encouraged to learn and use as well. Many clubs incorporate a short business meeting at the end of their club meeting.
How much does it cost to join?
There is never a cost to visit, and we recommend you visit a meeting at least once or twice, and check out multiple clubs so you feel comfortable making the commitment to yourself and your club. You can join anytime; there is no need to wait for a specific date to join as dues are pro-rated. New members pay a new member fee of $20 for materials and membership, and TI dues are $45 every 6 months, pro-rated at $9.00 per month. Most clubs have nominal dues as well, typically only $1 to $2 per month.
What do you get for your money? Shortly after joining, you will receive a New Member Kit in the mail from Toastmasters International. This contains the Competent Communicator manual, the Competent Leader manual, and additional informational materials to help you get acquainted with the Toastmasters Educational Program. In addition, you will receive a subscription to the Toastmaster magazine, published monthly. Materials are not the only thing you will get with your membership. Your club will make sure you receive all the support you need to be successful, which includes support and mentoring from your fellow club members.
See a video of what a real meeting is like and view testimonials at the Toastmasters International website.